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Value Up With Mitsubishi For Best Running Costs.

Mitsubishi has come out on top in a best value study looking at running costs.

According to data issued by the RACV, the Triton GLX in two and four wheel drive configuration, the big Pajero Sport GLX,  the smart-tech Outlander PHEV LS and Mirage ES all recorded the lowest running costs per week in their respective segments. This ensures that the Mitsubishi range extends its value-for-money appeal long after a customer leaves the dealership.

In the All-Terrain SUV category, the Pajero Sport GLX achieved the best-in-class result. Running costs averaged $237 per week, with the Triton GLX suggesting owners can enjoy less work and more play. It averaged running costs at just $210.99 per week for the 4×2 and $225.95 for the 4×4 drive-train.Mitsubishi’s small car, the Mirage ES, offering the lowest average running cost of just $108.78 per week. Sitting nicely in the mid-sizer SUV segment is the Outlander PHEV LS. This comfortably led the running costs charge in the EV segment at $259.22 per week.The annual running costs study assesses the cost of ownership of more than 100 vehicles in all segments over the first five years including list price, on road costs, depreciation, fuel and servicing. Costs may vary from state-to-state. Check with your local dealership for their prices then have a chat to us here at Private Fleet.

2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Petrol.

The Kia Sorento has been given a freshen up for 2019, like most of the Kia range. The changes are subtle but effective, with enhancements inside and out. I drove the 3.5L petrol drinking V6 Kia Sorento GT-Line trim, with an eight speed auto and seven seats. It’s priced at $55,490 (RRP) and came in the optional Aurora Black metallic, an extra $595.00. Peak power from the free spinning V6 is 206kW. You’ll need to drive like an F1 driver in training to use it though, as it’s on tap at 6300rpm. More sensible is the torque. There’s 336 of them but again at a high rev point, 5000rpm.

Fuel economy has been vastly improved, even though the engine is a 3.5L, up from the previously used 3.3L. The addition of a slick eight speeder helps as we finished on 8.7L/100km. What’s truly astounding is that the big car (1932kg before fuel and passengers) was driven in a predominantly urban drive loop, reflecting its intended usage. Kia quotes 14.2L/100km from the 71L tank in a urban drive and 10.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

The engine and drive-train are a well suited combination. The throttle response is instant, there’s a genuinely angry rasp from the V6 when driven hard, and the auto is 90% on song. The final two cogs, when driven at state legal urban speeds, seem unsure as to whether they were wanted or not. There’d be no real change in the engine revs however the transmission would drop or gain a gear. Smoothly, yes, but being indecisive is not a driver’s best perception for automatics.

The Sorento was also taken into an environment it normally wouldn’t see. On the mid western fringes of the Blue Mountains is Australia’s own grand canyon. There’s some great gravel roads on which to drive and the Sorento was given its head on a few of them. There’s no full time AWD system, rather a clever torque split on demand for the diesel and front wheel drive only in the petrol. There’s four drive modes to complement this too: Eco, Sports, Smart, and Comfort. Bearing mind it’s an urban warrior, the Sorento surprised with its gravel road manners.

Handling was composed, rarely skittish, and only really exhibited nervousness on some of the more broken and rutted tracks. The ABS system worked a treat on some mid-slope downhill runs, with a balanced and measured feel to the pedal itself. The steering’s weight was spot on for the light off-road style of driving, and the Comfort drive mode turned out to be the best choice for the required driving style. The Sorento is easy to drive from the throttle; back off into turns and the nose will run slightly wide, but a feather touch puts power to the front and tightens up the steering.

Tarmac driving is, naturally, the strong part of the Sorento’s presentation. It’s nippy, belying the weight it has. Although a good 4800mm in length, and packing a 2780mm wheelbase, the Sorento wraps around like a well worn glove, with only inexperienced drivers likely to feel it’s a big ‘un. There’s some serious mumbo from the V6, even with peak torque so high up the ladder rev wise. Standing start acceleration is somewhat indecent for the size and as mentioned there’s a real snarl from the V6 as it punches out in anger and the 235/55/19 rubber hooks up.

There’s little upper body movement meaning lane change stability is high. Again the steering is weighted just fine and the Sports mode is the pick for freeway driving. Eco is a touch sluggish, Comfort is an ideal mix, with Smart learning the driver’s throttle and braking inputs on the fly. Suspension tune is sportish, with a flat freeway ride, enough initial give before tightening up, and this lends itself to some good speed through tight corners and curves. Stopping isn’t a problem thanks to the 320mm front and 305mm rear vented/solid discs. There’s a niggle with the Lane Keep Assist though. It’s a little too assertive in its straightening of the wheel and was eventually disengaged.

It helps that the office space is a cool place to be in. The driver sees a combination of LCD digital and “old school” analogue instrumentation, a thoughtfully laid out dash and ancillary controls with a silver highlight, an eight inch touchscreen with DAB (more on that, shortly) and a ten year SUNA satnav update program, rear and mid row folding seats with aircon vents for both, heated mid row and front seats with venting up front, plus memory and powered seats for the front pews.

The rear seats fold flat into the floor and there is a mammoth 1662L of cargo space available. Those rear seats themselves are best suited for children or those that don’t identify as tall. The seats are highlighted with light grey stitching and there are GT-Line logos embossed into the leather. But the upper dash reflects quite visibly in the windscreen and sadly the Sorento isn’t alone on that.

It’s wonderful that Kia offer DAB audio in some of their vehicles now, however the sensitivity of the two tested (the Cerato Sport+ also has DAB and will be reviewed separately) is frankly near useless. In areas where other brands have clear and constant signal, the Sorento’s dropped out. In the same place. Every time. Although the sound quality through the ten speaker Harman Kardon system was fine when it was picking up signal, the lack of continuity in DAB was beyond frustrating. Otherwise, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, are available when a compatible smartphone is connected, or plug into the Auxiliary and USB points.

The Sorento range comes loaded with family features and is spot on for a family lifestyle drive. Six cupholders, two per seat row, start it off. Four bottle holders, a good sized centre console locker, map pockets, 3 12V sockets and a pair of USB chargers allow flexibility for smart devices. There’s no wireless charging point for compatible smart phones…yet.

The centre row passengers have sunshades in the door for both privacy and sunshade. Access to the rear seats is via the tilt and slide centre row or via the powered tailgate. Soft glow LED lights brighten up the black interior and beige/bone trimmed and highlight the two centre row mounted suit hooks. The alloy plate sill panels also brighten up with a red backlighting. All up though the Sorento, as comfortable as it is, does lack a real and measurable quotient inside: cachet. It’s still somewhat plasticky and not quite as eyeball grabbing as some Euro competition.

Family safety is assured thanks to the Sorento GT-Line’s extensive list. A high definition screen links to cameras placed around the Sorento’s exterior for a full 360 degree look around. Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Emergency Stop Signal are all on board. AEB is standard throughout the Sorento range.The Sorento’s exterior has been mildly massaged from the previous model, with slight changes to front and rear bumpers. There’s adaptive LED headlights in the GT-Line, with leveling and swiveling adding to night-time safety. There’s LED running and fog lights fitted, and the rear lights are also LED. The nose is bluff and smooth at the same time, with a subtle curve to the headlight’s upper edge on either side of the black & chrome grille.

Exterior colours are of a seven colour choice, with one (Snow White Pearl) being exclusive to the GT-Line. Otherwise there’s Clear White, Silky Silver, Metal Stream, Platinum Graphite, Gravity Blue, and the Aurora Black as seen on the test vehicle. There’s the standard seven year warranty and the capped price service intervals as well.

At The End Of the Drive.
Kia continues to go from strength to strength with is vehicles and the Sorento GT-Line is no different. Heaps of room, a broad range of family related features, and a family lifestyle oriented drive characteristic are big winners. The off road capability, a capability unlikely to be explored, from a front wheel drive SUV, place it ahead of its most likely competitor for moving people, Kia’s own Carnival. The better than expected fuel economy comes with a caveat: the test drive was with most one passenger, not a family and cargo.

At around the $60K drive-away point, it’s against Hyundai’s Santa Fe, Volvo’s XC40 and XC60, and models from Germany in regards to the intended buying market. Until all other makers standardise a seven year warranty then Kia will win straight away on that. As flexible as the interior is, it needs a lift visually. The DAB tuner needs a sensitivity boost whilst the lane assist service needs the opposite.

Make up your own mind by heading to Kia Australia website – Sorento to check out the 2019 Kia Sorento range.

Greeted With Raptorous Applause: Ford Ranger Raptor

Anticipation can lead to either joy or disappointment. When it comes to the long anticipated Ford Performance Vehicles Ranger Raptor, so far it’s looking more of the former. Here’s what we know.

Engine: a 2.0L diesel provides peak power of 157kW and 500Nm (1750 – 2000 rpm)and means the Raptor will have plenty of bite, thanks to a bi-turbo system that will drink from a 80L tank. It’s EURO V compliant at 212 gr/km, will be offering a 8.2L/100 km fuel economy for the combined cycle, and see a top speed of 170 km/h. with a 0-100 km/h time of just over ten seconds. Good figures from a 2.3 tonne machine before fuel and passengers. The transmission is a ten speed (yes, ten speed) automatic with ratios picked to ensure quicker shifts and to be as close as possible to the right gear for the throttle setting. It’s good enough for a 2500 kilo towing (braked) figure.Chassis: 283mm of ground clearance, a broader track than the standard Ranger at 1710mm front and rear, and 285/70/17 wheels & BF Goodrich All Terrain rubber, specially made for Raptor, combine with composite material front fenders and a bumper with integrated LED fog lamps to provide an assertive on and off road presence. Turning circle is a tight 12.9 metres. The load tray is 1743mm in length and 1560mm in width on a 5398mm long body. Maximum width is2180mm with the mirrors out.Inside: a bespoke interior with blue stitching, leather highlights and “technical suede” for extra lateral grip, a rejigged look to the instrument bezel, and perforated leather sections on the steering wheel make for a classy cabin environment.Ride and Drive: There’s a Terrain Management System, TMS, which includes a Baja mode. This sharpens up the engine and transmission and blunts the intrusion of the traction control to give a driver a real off-road experience. It’s a pair of Macpherson struts up front and Ford’s tried and true Watts linkage at the rear.Brakes: Plenty of swept area on the discs means plenty of stopping power.332mm x 32mm up front and 332mm x 24mm at the rear meet a 54mm caliper. They’re bolted to Position Sensitive Dampers that provide, at full extension and compression, a higher level of rebound force. Mid range damping force is specifically tuned for comfort during normal driving.

Extras: A “breadcrumb” feature in the satnav allows drivers to backtrack the way they came when in areas that may not be included in the mapping system. There’s a Rollover Mitigation System to deal with the 32 degree approach, 24 degree departure, and 24 degree break over angles.

DRIVER ASSISTANCE AND CONVENIENCE TECHNOLOGIES
Adjustable speed limiter, Auto lighting, 25W HID headlights with LED Daytime Running Lamps, LED Fog Lamps, cruise control, Electronic Automatic Temperature Control, Electronic Stability Control, Passive Entry Passive Start (PEPS), Rear Parking Sensors, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Hill Start Assist (HAS), Hill Descent Control (HDC), ESC system with Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Load Adaptive Control (LAC), Roll Over Mitigation (ROM), Traffic Sign Recognition, Steering Wheel Paddle Shifters, Part time 4×4 with Terrain Management System, Unique Transmission Calibration and “Live in Drive” Functionality, rain sensing wipers, rear view camera, Roll Stability Control
SYNC 3 with touchscreen navigation, Auto Start/Stop.

German Odds And Ends: VW Crafter Van & Audi TT

They’re the lifeblood of the small courier driver business, of the larger postal delivery services. LCVs or Light Commercial Vehicles come in various shapes and forms, including the van. There’s plenty to choose from and Volkswagen has just made that choice even more difficult.

The Crafter range offers a more car-like experience both inside and out. There’s the Medium wheelbase, Long wheelbase, Long wheelbase with Overhang, the cab chassis versions in both single and dual cab options and with single and dual rear wheel designs. All up a new Crafter comes in a minimum of 36 versions but with 4 body styles, 3 lengths, 3 heights there’s a total of 59 derivatives including front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and 4MOTION all wheel drive. The starting price for the immense range is for the Crafter 35 TDI340 LWB (Long wheelbase) SCC (single cab chassis) 8 Speed with auto and FWD at $48,290. Just two hundred more sees you in the Crafter 35 TDI340 MWB (Medium Wheelbase) Van 6 Speed Man ‘RUNNER’ front wheel drive.

There’s different load capacities that are dependent on which drive configuration is chosen. Tick the front-wheel drive option and there’s a cargo capacity of up to 18.4 cubic metres and a maximum cargo space height of 2196 mm. Total permitted weight is between 3.55 to 4.0 tonnes. Load width between the wheel arches is 1380 mm and cargo space length is 4855 mm. Have the driven wheels at the other end and the permitted total weight ranges from 3.55 to 5.5 tonnes. The load width on the heavy vehicles with dual rear wheels has been increased in comparison to the previous model by 402mm, thus allowing it to be loaded using a wider range of standard carriers.Inside it’s a more comfortable workspace. LED lighting has been fitted, the base model has four way electric adjustment and there’s a higher level of comfort available. Called ergoActive, it’s part of a German health and safety campaign to help drivers look after their postures and driving positions. Central locking is standard, dual zone climate control is available, and the Trendline package offers extra features such as a second 12V socket, chromed highlights, and front fog and cornering lights.

Dimensions wise there’s the medium wheelbase 5986mm, a long wheelbase at 6386mm, and the overhang version with 7391mm. Engine wise there’s a 2.0L diesel that offers either 340Nm or 410Nm. More features and details will be released in coming months. Head to Volkswagen Australia for more information and to register for updates.

Audi‘s iconic TT coupe made its world debut in 1995 and was available for sale in 1998. The 2018/2019 update brings exterior and interior changes, and updates to the drivetrain. There’s a six speed manual, and a new seven speed DCT or dual clutch auto. The S Line package or magnetic ride drop the ride height by 10 millimetres and work with the progressive steering and four link rear suspension to further enhance the already fluid handling.Standard wheels are 17 inches in diameter, with 18, 19, and 20 as options. These complement the redesigned front and rear, with interior features accessing the Audi drive select dynamic handling system that’s available from the base model, a rain and light sensor, heated exterior mirrors, and the multi-function steering wheel plus This allows the infotainment and voice control system to be controlled entirely using the steering wheel. Also standard are the illuminated USB ports as well as Bluetooth for wireless pairing of devices. The front has a more assertive grille and is flanked by stylish air vents with the rear featuring a subtle work-over to the classic lines.The new TT is due for Australia in the first six months of 2019. Head to Audi Australia to register your interest.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Jeep Compass Limited

Jeep. It’s a name that’s synonymous with unbreakable cars, uncompromising off road ability, and being uniquely American. Well, once. Any Jeep labelled TrailHawk is still uncompromising in its ability to deal with mud, snow, sand, gravel, as easily as the tarmac, but not all Jeeps are unbreakable and not all Jeeps are American. I reviewed a Jeep a couple of years that refused to play ball. It was a time when quality control wasn’t part of the first sentence in how to build one. Thankfully it seems those times are well and truly past as our Indian built 2018 Jeep Compass Limited with 2.4L petrol fed “Tigershark” engine proved.The time the Compass Limited spent with us coincided with a trip that would ultimately cover 1150 kilometres. This would start at AWT’s Blue Mountains based HQ, south via Goulbourn and Queanbeyan, east of Canberra, to Cooma before overnighting at the Aalberg Chalet. Mine hosts were Ulla and Lindsay, an engaging and effervescent couple, providing an atmosphere of welcome and warmth. From there a few hours at Thredbo for ski lessons for my junior staffers, before a drive along the “Barry Way” via Dalgety, the Boco wind farm, and the parched depths of the NSW plains before our eastward bounds journey had us in Bega for one night. From there is was north through Narooma, Ulladulla, and Nowra, diverting through the gorgeous Kangaroo Valley and marveling at the once ocean floor cliffs before rejoining the Hume on our way home.The Compass sits above the Renegade and below the Cherokee in Jeep’s substantial range. A choice of four trim levels are available, with Sport, Longitude, Limited, and TrailHawk on offer. The Compass Liited has a 2.4L petrol engine named Tigershark, or the preferred for long distance haulage diesel. The petrol engine has 129kW, 229 Nm, and a nine speed CVT auto. Fuel consumption is quoted as 9.7L/100km on a combined cycle from the 60 litre tank and 7.4L/100 for the highway. AWT’s best figure was 8.6L/100km on a purely highway driven cycle. This was with four up and the cargo area filled with three bags/travel cases. The petrol Limited’s weight is 1503 kilograms dry.Our journey starts with an eastwards bound run from the lower Blue Mountains to one of Sydney’s orbital freeways, The M7 takes drivers south towards the city bound M5 or the Canberra and beyond Hume. What’s immediately noticeable is suspension tune. It leans towards the harder side of compliance, and there’s an initial feeling that tyres were at the wrong pressure. That didn’t turn out to be the situation. What was also becoming clear was the lack of torque at low revs. On the flatter country roads it would purr along in a quiet, unfussed, manner. Thew CVT changes smoothly, unobtrusively. Heading towards Goulbourn, around two hours drive south of Sydney. there’s some good long gradients that test cars and with that peak torque available at 3900 rpm it needs a hefty shove on the go pedal to get the engine and transmission to drop back enough to get close to that rev point. Forward motion slows appreciably and in order to keep safety up for traffic flow, more pedal is needed.Downhill runs have the CVT finding itself in a cog and holding that, using the engine as a braking device. This would be ideal in a hybrid to charge batteries but it’s disconcerting in the Compass as it holds revs in the upper range. There’s a little more effort than expected to move the gear selector left to engage manual shift mode and override the computer’s selection choice. The movement isn’t silky smooth either. The same applies to the indicator stalk, mounted on the left hand side of the steering column in this case. There’s a plasticky click to engage but there’s an upside. Just about every other car maker has a soft touch program that indicates just three times. the Compass Limited’s blinker count is five.As the journey progresses south what also becomes noticeable is the lack of real road safety shown by far too many other drivers. NSW and the ACT have a myopic focus on speed as to why people crash. By the time a stop at Lake George, twenty or so minutes north of Canberra is undertaken, the amount of vehicles successfully completing a safe lane change is one. That’s the Jeep.The all purpose rubber fitted, Bridgestone‘s Turanza, with a 225/55/18 profile isn’t a fan of the rougher road surfaces and transmits that to the cabin via the MacPherson strut front and Chapman front rear. Get onto the smooth blacktop and the noise level drops dramatically and the ride becomes far more enjoyable too. Queanbeyan and it’s an 80 kp/h limit. The Compass Limited exercises her brakes here more than anywhere, with traffic lights and roundabouts working together to not make a fluid traffic flow possible. Unexpectedly the initial feeling of the seats being hard and lacking in support is slowly being disproved, with no real sensation of seat cushion related fatigue. The storage nook based under the passenger seat cushion is handy too.

Outside temperatures vary along the way. Countering that is the Jeep’s electric seats (quick, thankfully) and dual controlled climate control. There’s dial or icons on the eight inch touchscreen which are well laid out, simple to use, and efficiently effective. Economy has stabilised at 8.6L/100 and a pitstop for a break and top up has been undertaken. Mid afternoon has Cooma through the front windscreen. We’re in a convoy that includes an Audi Q7 and Ford Territory, driven by people that have no sense of road manners or safety. One overtaking lane has a Range Rover and Corolla ahead of the Jeep, with the Corolla inexplicably moving right, forcing the Rangie to brake momentarily before scooting past the left side of the Toyota. This has allowed us to do the same as the Corolla is clearly struggling. However again that lack of low rev torque is appreciable but the cams come on song at around 3500, and there’s a noticeable in the Jeep’s behaviour. It’s needed as the Q7 ranges up behind the Corolla before a sudden non indicated dart left to take up position a foot shy of the Compass. The merge lane to one lane is here and all of a sudden the Territory is almost buried in the Corolla’s rear, with the driver having no apparent sense of when to brake appropriately. The Jeep’s overall drive and safety package have been tested and passed.

Jindabyne and the twisting downhill run to the picturesque town has the steering come alive. Electrically assisted it’s light enough to not feel it is out of touch with the road, and weighty enough to provide a real sense of communication between car and driver. The CVT appreciates this sort of road more, and works in concert with the accelerator to be where it should be gear wise. Being a vehicle that has a 4WD mode that splits drive front and rear on demand, the predominantly FWD bias has the Compass track wide only occasionally. This requires naught more that a tap of the brake or accelerator to bring the nose back on line.

Finally it’s time to exit the Compass Limited and it’s a chance to appreciate the cabin ambience. There’s the natural level of fatigue after six hours of travel and breaks, but none extra from the seats and ride. The dash dials have a slightly old fashioned style of font for the numbers, with small LED light points spread around the dials. In between is a colour LCD screen, as is standard in just about every car, offering trip info, average and on demand fuel usage, and more. The rear seat passengers have enough leg room even with the adults pushing their seats back. Rear seat passengers also get a USB point, handy for the older but not yet teenaged ones. There’s a ski-port fold out cupholder for them as well.The front seat passengers have an elegantly designed dash to look at and feel. Soft touch materials abound, the trim is subtle, tasteful, and there’s plenty of room for legs, heads, and shoulders. A centre console mounted drive selector dial gives the Compass Limited some off road prowess including Snow, Sand, and Mud. All round vision is excellent and ergonomics including a push button start where one would find a keyhole makes the process natural and intuitive. It complements the redesigned exterior, aligning the Compass range more with the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee appearance. Audio is superb and well balanced, with the DAB tuner more sensitive than others, thankfully. What was noticeable was a lack of height adjustment for the passenger seat. It’s clearly not a big vehicle, making the interior packaging all the more remarkable for its successful implementation. The Compass is just 4394mm long, 1819mm wide, and stands 1644mm tall. It packs in a 2636mm wheelbase and has a stable chassis thanks to the 1550mm and 1546 mm track font and rear. This gives the Compass excellent cross wind stability and helps the compact SUV in its high levels of agility both off and on road. A 212mm road clearance allows for some good running on those tracks well beaten, plus the approach and departure angles of 16.8 and 31.7 degrees, it’s able to handle a good coverage of terrain. Although Thredbo was cold, it wasn’t overly endowed with snow. This unfortunately didn’t give us a real chance to try the Snow mode for any length of time. However some drifts were found and a simple flick of the drive dial had the Compass Limited crawl its way out without issue. Where the Compass Limited shine came later. From Jindabyne and along the Barry Way the road and terrain is tight, testing the handling and ride. The vistas are incredible, with ridge high roads providing unparalleled views all around. Sadly this meant that the view provided evidence of the terrible drought the farmers are enduring and all too often the tragic signs in a paddock were evidence of this.

The flat runs were fine for the auto and engine, but any uphill runs tasked the combination time and again. Anything over four thousand rpm and the noise was thrashy, whiny, and the Compass Limited really struggled to maintain forward momentum, even with the torque coming on stream. However there’s no doubt that with a lighter load the effort would, naturally, be less evident. Evidence of power was seen on the horizon, with a wind farm coming into view and the road would take the Compass directly between the line of the Boco Wind Farm. Almost silent, the huge turbines swung lazily, majestically, with the ridge they’re mounted on hiding a sudden drop to the eastern plains.The Jeep’s off road ability was tested somewhat after crossing the Snowy River and heading towards Bega. A rutted, sandy, gravelly road east of Cathcart called the Tantawangalo Road is a long, mostly one laned affair. It was here that the Jeep Compass and its all wheel drive system gets a workout. Slip the dial onto Sand and the dash lights up with an icon saying so. However it also shows that the traction control is disengaged. To us it seems odd that on such a surface that traction control would be disengaged. Especially when farmers are lawfully allowed to range cows freely on the roads.What also happens is that the computer bumps the engine’s rev point to around three thousand, taking advantage of the rise of the torque curve. This endowed the Compass Limited with a frisky, energetic, attitude, and could be coaxed into gentle skids on turns where it could be done safely. The handling tightens up and becomes even more responsive, and there’s just enough freeplay in the steering to set up for a Scandinavian flick style turn. The taut suspension also magically dials out the rutted surfaces and worked the coil springs wonderfully. The car could be throttle controlled, easing off for the turns before getting back on the juice, powering out and settling the Compass.

Overnight in Bega and north along the Princes Highway. Again there were far too many examples of why the government’s myopic focus on speed is a failure. Should the highway patrol police vehicles without working indicators then an absolute motza would be made and basic driving standards would increase. Further north to Nowra and to Kangaroo Valley. Again the uphill runs tested the engine and transmission and still averaged a sub nine litre figure.

The final run from Mittagong and Bowral and along the Hume to home, and the Compass Limited is settling into a rhythm. It’s a rev point of under two thousand at cruising speed and the car is composed, relaxed, almost as if it knows the home base is near.

At The End Of The Drive.
Jeep quotes 7.4L per 100 kilometres for the highway run. To achieve a final figure of 8.6L/100 km with a load aboard was a welcome surprise. The diesel is quoted as 5.1L/100 km for the highway so that final figure is superb in context. The overall fit and finish is as it should be, the initial misgivings over the ride quality were dispatched quickly, and for a family of four for a weekend away it suffices. Off road manners show why the Jeep name is the one to go to. In essence the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited was better than expected. And that’s a winner in anyone’s book. Here’s where you can find your true north: 2018 Jeep Compass range

2019 Kia Sportage Has Arrived.

Korean car maker Kia has given its Sportage mid sized SUV a mid life makeover. There’s some exterior enhancements, interior updates, and changes to the safety packages.
Safety: Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) are now standard across the range. Diesel transmission: an eight speed auto is standard for any diesel engined model.
The Si has as standard: ABS, ESC, Downhill Brake Control, Hill Start Assist, reverse parking sensors, rear view camera with dynamic guidelines, Lane Keeping Assist, AEB with Forward Collision Warning, High Beam Assist, 3-point ELR seatbelts in all positions, six airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters, and impact sensing auto door unlocking. Also standard on the Si is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, engine immobilizer, remote central locking, 6-way adjustable driver’s seat, 6-speaker audio unit, cloth trim seats, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, power windows front and rear, Bluetooth functionality, 2.0-litre MPi engine or 2.0-litre CRDi engine, 6-speed automatic on petrol and 8-speed on diesel and 17-inch alloys with 225/60 R17 tyres.Next up is the Si Premium. Satnav is standard, as are front parking sensors, LED DRLs, 225/55/18 rubber and alloys, DAB and an eight inch touchscreen, plus ten years worth of SUNA satnav. SLi adds a tyre pressure monitoring system, powered driver’s seat that’s adjustable for ten ways, and LED rear lights. The GT-Line ups the ante even further with Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, 8-way power front passenger seat, Intelligent Parking Assist System, LED fog lights, GT-Line sports pack (bumpers, side sill and grille), panoramic sunroof, flat-bottomed sports wheel with gear-shift paddles, wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, hands-free power tailgate, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, 19-inch alloys with 245/45 R19 rubber and LED headlights with auto levelling.Exterior design changes have the rear lights tidied to provide a more integrated look and better brake light visibility. LED lamps up front for the GT-Line provide a better lighting spread, plus the bezels for the fog lights in the Si and Si Premium have been sharpened for a more assertive road presence. Even the wheels have been changed in design for a new, fresh, look.
Interior room has been increased with a 30mm lengthening of the wheelbase. Overall length has moved to 4485mm, an increase of 45mm, with headroom and legroom increasing by up to 19mm. A subtle lowering of the bonnet’s leading edge adds to raising pedestrian safety levels.Underneath are changes that aren’t easily seen but will be noticed on road. Revised and relocated suspension components. The suspension bushes have been moved, wheel bearings have been stiffened, as have the bushings. The rear suspension cross member was also uprated to reduce vibration input to the cabin and the whole rear subframe has been mounted on uprated and isolated bushings.
Motorvation is courtesy of a 2.0L petrol four with 114kW and 192Nm of torque, 2.4L petrol with 135kW & 237Nm. The diesel is 2.2L of capacity with 136kW and a thumping 400Nm of torque.Pricewise: Si 2.0-litre petrol: $29,990. Si 2.0-litre diesel: $35,390. Si Premium Petrol: $32,290 (D/A $31,990). Si Premium diesel $37,690 (D/A $37,390).
SLi 2.0-litre petrol: $36,790. SLi 2.0-litre diesel: $42,190. GT-Line 2.4-litre petrol: $44,790. GT-Line 2.0-litre diesel: $47,690.  Head to the Kia website

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Is On The Way.

Hyundai‘s big SUV, the Santa Fe, has received a substantial makeover and it’s heading our way. The sheetmetal has been completely reworked, safety standards have been lifted, and overall ride & build quality has been improved. The Active petrol starts from $43,000, with the diesel at $46,000. The Elite kicks off at $54,000, and Highlander at $60,500, with these being the manufacturer’s list price. Here’s what we’ll be getting.Santa Fe comes in three trim levels: Active, Elite, and Highlander. The Active offers a choice of a 138kW 2.4L petrol and six speed auto or a revamped 440Nm diesel and eight speed auto that’s new to the Korean brand and gears can be paddle shift selected. The petrol’s peak torque of 241Nm is available at 4000 rpm. The diesel offers the peak amount from 1750 to 2750 rpm. Economy for the petrol is quoted as a reasonable 9.3L/100km on a combined cycle. The Elite and Highlander are specced with the EURO 5 compliant diesel and is quoted as 7.5L/100km for the combined. The exterior has been sharpened and flattened all around. Design cues from the Kona are strong, with the signature Cascading Grille, which is in a carbon effect finish on Elite and Highlander, split level lighting system being balanced via reprofiled tail lights which are LED lit in the Highlander. In between is a reprofiled body including a strengthened look to the wheel arches. Overhang at the rear has increased, and the overall length has gone up too. It’s an increase of 70mm to 4770mm and wheelbase size is also up, to 2765mm. Hyundai has also relocated the wing mirrors to the door panels. Height and width are impressive at 1680mm and 1890mm. Drive is courtesy of the HTRAC AWD system which is standard in all three and ride is thanks to revamped MacPherson struts and multilink rear. The HTRAC system comes in three drive modes, Comfort, Sport, and Eco, with torque being apportioned front or rear depending on which mode is selected. Sport has up to 50% shifted rearwards, Comfort up to 35%, and Eco goes to the front wheels. The rear has been stiffened and components realigned to provide more travel. Suspension rates have been further adapted for Australian roads so the Santa Fe will sit more comfortably on the road yet will follow contours precisely. Weight has been saved by utilising aluminuim for the front steering knuckles and rear carrier mountings for a total of 3.6kg and 5.6kg for each side.Safety has gone up a notch or two also. The physical structure of the Santa Fe has been improved with fifteen percent more high tensile steel and fifteen hot stamped components, up from six. Then there’s the standard list of equipment. Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian and cyclist detection (with autonomous application), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA)Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), High Beam Assist (HBA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) are in all three.A couple of other nifty features are auto opening tailgates for the Elite and Highlander when the Smart Key is detected, and there’s a “Walk In” feature for the second row of seats that folds them flat, allowing easier rear seat access. The sound system in the Elite and Highlander is a ten speaker setup courtesy of Infinity. Highlander also features a smartphone charging pad for compatible items.

Head to Hyundai’s website for more information.

Private Fleet Car Review: Suzuki Vitara S Turbo All-Grip.

It’s been some time between drives with Suzuki’s cool and funky Vitara. A recent catch-up with the turbocharged petrol fed S Turbo All-Grip, one built in November 2016 and close to ten thousand kilometres on it gave us a chance to see how they’ve held together.Sizewise the Vitara is a compact machine, with an overall length of just 4175mm. However clever packaging sees a wheelbase of 2500mm squeezed in. Breadth and height is decent too, at 1775mm and 1610mm. Up front is a 1.4L BoosterJet four, complete with 103kW and 220 torques from 1500 to 4000 revs. Transmission is a six speed auto and a torque split system to divert oomph from the front to the rear on demand.Having said that there is a drive mode selector button inside for Sports and Sand/Snow which lights up on the monochrome centre dash display. The switchover is seamless but the transmission was prone to stuttering and hesitation when cold. There’s a win for economy though, with a thousand kilometre week finishing on 6.1L of 95RON being consumed per one hundred kilometres. That’s from a 47 litre tank and pretty much on the money with Suzuki claiming a 6.2L/100 km for the combined cycle.Acceleration is pretty good, with that level of torque matching the light weight (1235 kg plus fuel and passengers). It’ll quickly and quietly drop a cog or two on demand and roll forward at speed easily enough. Overtaking then also becomes a simple matter of flexing the right ankle, and thanks again to its light weight, stopping is a brezze. Time and again the brakes would haul up the All-Grip with less than usual pressure but it helps when the pedal travel is intuitive and pressured well enough.It’s still the edgy yet slightly boxy shape that was available in the noughties, if perhaps somewhat more upright and squared off at either end. The front end sports LED driving lights in the lwoer quarters but also has globe lit driving lights that come on and override the LEDs when a switch on the indicator stalk is used. Hmm….The grille itself is a series of hexagons but it’s a solid sheet, meaning air is drawn in only through the lower extremities.Rubber is not off road suitable, even though the Vitara is, ostensibly, capable of light off-roading. They’re 17 inch Continentals with a 215/55 profile, wrapping five spoke black alloys. Dry weather grip is superb but in the wet weather they combined with the MacPherson strut front & torsion beam rear to feel skittish. The coil springs fitted to the Vitara S Turbo All-Grib are tuned for a more sports oriented ride, with a small amount of compliance dialed in to give comfort initially. As such the whole package needed dialing back on accelerator and steering input on Sydney’s greasy roads, just to be sure.Ride and handling is well sorted otherwise. It’s comfortable, if a touch taut. Bang crash is minimal on catseyes, speed reducing bumps in shopping centres, and the bigger road based bumps. Unsettled surfaces have the Vitara All-Grip unflustered and the suspension tune allows the dips and wallows to be flattened out with nary an intrusion felt past a momentary bump. Turn-in is precise and feedback is natural from the front.Inside is a compact but non-claustrophobic workspace. There’s splashes of colour such as the red ringed speedo and tacho displays matched by the simple twist and open airvents, a metallic grey insert on the passenger’s side of the dash, and alloy plastic touches on the tiller and gear selector. The radio is AM/FM only in this one, but partners with Apple CarPlay and voice command to provide interactivity. Satnav is standard across the Vitara range.Safety is high with seven airbags including a kneebag, with a full suite of traction control systems. Autonomous Emergency Braking isn’t fitted but remember that this car was built a year and a half ago from the review date. ISOFIX seat restraint points are standard. Hill Hold Control is also fitted to all autos and Hill Descent Control is available for the All-Grip. There’s parking sensors, rain sensing wipers and reverse camera as well.

Cargo space of 375L (seats up, 710L down) is compromised by virtue of the car’s smallish size. Pop open the non powered rear door and there’s a split level cargo area with blind. The lower level highlights a major safety issue common to almost every car maker. That is a space saver spare. Consider for a moment that the Vitara is an off/soft road capable vehicle so fitting them with a space saver is hardly sensible. Consider also the dry weight of the Vitara is only 1235 kilograms so a full sized alloy would have been a minor weight impost over a steel space saver.

The car was driven on a longish day drive to Canberra and return, copping a vee shaped construction nail in the right rear. Complicit in the situation was the suspension tune as there was no indication of a flat. There was no pulling, no drag, no obvious noise as such. The tyre itself looked initially to have been only a nail but upon being “deconstructed” showed a clear groove on the inside exterior where it had rode the alloy’s rim. This resulted in an unwelcome ninety minute delay at a certain tyre retailer.At The End Of The Drive.
Available in seven colours, the Vitara S Turbo All-Grip is currently available on a drive-away program at $33,990. It’s immensely good value, a comfortable ride, and in real terms ideal for a couple. Having piloted these cars before they’re borderline for a family of four outside of urban usage, again simply because of their compact footprint. Although rear legroom is adequate it’s the cargo area for baggage that holds it back and that’s unavoidable.But it IS a fun drive. Overwhelmingly so. It’ll be interesting to see what Suzuki does when its inevitable update comes along. Here’s where you can find out more about the existing model: 2016 onwards Suzuki Vitara

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged-X and Rogue

It’s fair to say that sometimes a manufacturer will release a car that’s dressed up and sold as a limited edition in a cynically grinned cash-grab. Toyota‘s trio of body kitted HiLux four door utes, the Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue, are dressed up but Toyota says they won’t be limited editions. They’re actually a mid-life model addition to the range. The drivetrain remains the same as the three are, unsurprisingly, based on existing models. A 2.8L four cylinder diesel with 130kW and 430 or 450Nm (depending on whether a six speed manual or auto is bolted to it) is standard for the three. The boss tradie aimed Rogue is auto as standard whilst the let’s get weekend dirty Rugged and Rugged-X can be bought with either a three or two pedal setup. The entry level Rugged manual starts from $54,990 and there’s a $2K premium for the slushbox. Rugged-X starts from $61,690 and again has a $2K auto price jump. Rogue is the same price as the Rugged-X manual. Economy was worse in the Rogue than Rugged-X, finishing on 10.5L/100km and the Rugged-X finished at 9.7L/100km. These figures aren’t far off the combined cycle figures of 10.9L and 7.9L/100 respectively from the 80L tank, but as both were used only in urban environments, the dollars start adding up. Plus, Toyota quotes the Rugged-X as being heavier than the Rogue in a dry weight comparison, at 2252 kilos versus 2147 kilos. Hmmm…..Rogue comes with a restyled front plastic bumper with driving lights locked away in a niche in each corner. Said niche is angular in design and strongly resembles one from Kia’s Sorento from the early-mid 2010s. Both Rogue and Rugged-X have a roll-bar with bespoke nameplate, towbar, bash-plates under the nose, and sidesteps. Here’s there’s a slight difference, with the Rugged-X having narrower all metal steps called rock rails, and Rogue getting wider plastic shrouded steps. Both Rugged and Rugged-X have a snorkel but again a visual difference. The Rugged has a proper bullbar fitted with integrated LED driving lights, with the Rugged-X a smaller steel front bar, integrated centre mounted LED light bar, and sharply framed corners for easier off-road climbing. At the rear there’s matt black covers for the leading edge of the tail lights. Headlights in the Rugged-X are lined with LEDs but the Rugged dips out.There’s additional common features for the two; under-body tow hitch points front and rear, an open rear tun with urethane protection for the floor and sides, a blacked-out tailgate handle, and Rugged bonnet decals. The Rogue is more subtle in the decaling plus has a lockable hard cover for the marine carpet lined tub. Rogue has 18 inch black painted alloys, Rugged and -X have the same styled 17s. The Rogue came clad in a pearlescent white, the Rugged-X test vehicle in a complementary to the decaling grey.Inside the Rugged-X is an interior that’s almost a clone of what’s found in the Rogue. Bar a difference on the floor with rubber mats versus carpet, and slightly different sill trim, the pair are identical, through to the dash design, features, and somewhat near compromise in rear leg room. Even though the three are all over five metres long in total length and have a wheelbase of three, the actual cabin sizes aren’t great and hopefully this is something an update addresses. In essence, the rear cabin is tolerable for anyone hovering at six feet or so in height but if the front seats are occupied by those at the same height and by necessity push the seats back, then…The dash itself is heavily driver focused. The tiller feels broader than it probably is, a pair of dials bracket a small info screen that plays a GIF on startup and shows info via a tab on the right hand spoke of the steering wheel. The dash itself is a three fold shape and seems to fade off into the distance on the passenger’s side. Neither side wraps around, they simply end abruptly at each door.A centrally mounted touchscreen, a different design to that found in the Camry and looking more as if bolted in rather than designed in, houses a CD player, DAB tuner (which was fussy in both cars by only displaying a select set of DAB stations), Bluetooth, and via USB and Auxiliary located ahead of the gear selector. The all over look is black on black, with more black thrown in for good measure. This may suit the Rugged, the -X could do with a bit more lightness, and the Rogue needs a broader colour palette full stop.Seating in the -X and Rogue is leather with a one setting heat button next to the USB port. Driver’s seats were electrically powered and excellent in actual comfort levels. But the pair miss out on some now seen as essential safety equipment. Although a rear view camera is on board, there’s no parking sensors there, no Blind Spot Alert, no Autonomous Emergency Braking and that ;ast one is crucial given the lack of real stopping urge in the Rugged-X, and only slightly more inclined in the Rogue. ESC is standard though, as are seven airbags and trailer sway control. if you do wish to tow, there’s a 3200kg braked towing capacity. Cargo carrying, however, is well under a tonne for both, with Rogue 826 kilos and 748 kg for Rugged-X.On the road the pair display distinctly different characteristics. The Rogue is more inclined towards being car like, the Rugged-X is typical four wheel drive with a looser rear end and a ride quality tending towards wallowy and pogo. The steering in the Rugged-X was rubbery on centre but backed off from that through left and right. The Rogue again felt more like a car in its steering. Drivewise, being based on the same mechanicals meant they accelerated better in Power, were as equally more sluggish in Eco, and were reasonably quick in normal driving. Hard acceleration had the transmission move through the lower, more closely spaced gears, quickly although the engine became thrashy above 3500 rpm. Light acceleration is better for the transmission, as changes were far smoother, and less inclined to be physically felt. More than occasionally though, the transmission was caught out by slowing and then accelerating, as one does coming to a give way line or roundabout. The indecisiveness would have the six speed slip back from third or fourth a cog or two then suddenly drop down again. It was also prone, on longer yet more gentle declines, to drop back a cog too far in an effort to engine brake.Only the Rugged-X was taken off-road, as the tyres fitted to the Rogue were more of a tarmac spec, plus the Rigged-X was more specifically kitted for the purpose. It’s here that the departure and approach angles also differ between the two. Rogue has 30 degrees, Rugged-X 28. Departure angles are 21 and 20 degrees respectively. On our favoured test track for off roading, a fire trail with a great mix of gravel, rock, mud, mud puddles, and some good inclines, the Rugged-X ate these up without a noise. High range four wheel drive was selected and that was all that was needed even on the sections where low range, Hill Descent Control (which was tested and worked as expected) and diff-lock would have been suitable. Ride and handling immediately became obvious as being more suitable for the varying kind of terrain, as the spongy leaf sprung rear enabled the Rugged-X to roll over obstacles as easily as tarmac.Toyota’s standard three year warranty applies, as does their roadside assistance and fixed price servicing packages.

At The End Of The Drive.
After the failure of the Toyota Racing Division experiment, one could cast a cynical eye over the Toyota HiLux Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue. With a potential design update hint with the Rogue’s front bar, both should attract a bit of eyeball action. But like a well plated dinner that is eaten in two bites, there’s more to these two than looks. Absolutely there’s that proven off road credential and the Rugged-X will fit the bill for rural and dirt applications admirably.

The Rogue’s off road ability will be the same but it’s more for a “if it’s needed” rather than a stylish looking foreman type vehicle. If the Rogue is to be the trio’s leader then a cabin lift is needed. The seats need a step up from the Rugged-X, and the trim levels need a hint of greys below and a white to beige/bone roof lining. And an extension to the cabin’s rear for better leg room is almost essential, as is the addition of rear parking sensors as standard.

Here is where to find out more: 2018 HiLux range including Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue.

Mazda Goes Great, It’s The CX-8! And How About The Mazda6?

Mazda has added a new CX model to the range, with the CX-8 also being the sole diesel powered entry to the family. The seven seater will have a 2.2L oiler with 140kW and 450Nm of torque. Name plates will be Sport with front and all wheel drive, and Asaki AWD as the range leader.Pricing will naturally be competitive with a starting price of $42,490 (manufacturer’s list price) for the FWD Sport. The AWD Sport will start from $46,490, and the Asaki from $61,490.  The Asaki will feature heated front and rear seats, a Bose sound system, brown or white elather trim, and a woodgrain dash finish.Size-wise the CX-8 will be on the same 2930mm wheelbase as the petrol only CX-9, but is slightly smaller in length, width, and height. It’s based on the CX-5 platform but shares the same wheelbase as the larger CX-9.Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Lane Departure Warning are expected to be listed as standard equipment, along with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors for the Sport. Further details are expected closer to the launch date.CX-8 is due to be released for a July 2018 sales date.

The Mazda6 has also had the wand waved over it. There’s a refinement to the exterior including LED headlights with integrated fog lamps, a 170kW/420Nm turbocharged 2.5L petrol four, and upgrades to trim.
Standard equipment includes the i-ACTIVESENSE safety package which includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control, and the top end Atenza gains a 360 degree viewing monitor and vented front seats, a boon for Aussie drivers in warm climates. The seats themselves have been redesigned with better support and higher vibration absorption levels.There’s 14 variants for the 2018/2019 Mazda6, covering sedan and wagon, with Sport, Touring, GT, and Atenza trim levels. Pricing starts at $32,490 (plus on roads) for the Sport sedan with the 2.5L 140kW/252Nm petrol four, and tops out at $50,090 plus on roads for the Atenza diesel wagon. A 2.5L SkyActiv four cylinder petrol is also available with 170kW and 420Nm at 2000 rpm.